Destiny In Bloom

Modesty and Beauty

Modesty and Beauty

posted on May 23rd, 2012 / by Alan Smith / 77 Comments

You are beautiful.

There are few things more powerful than beauty. Lust is such a poor thin response to it. Our culture allows lust to define beauty, but it can’t. Lust doesn’t tell us anything about the one seen. It only tells us about the one who looks, and how they look, and why.

You are beautiful.

Perhaps men have looked upon you with lust. Maybe they’ve done more than look. But this doesn’t tell us about your beauty. It only tells us about their lack of identity, their fear of risk, their orphaned hearts.

Lust is too small to define beauty. It’s not sufficient. It lacks concreteness, depth, perspective. Lust is not true enough. Lust has nothing to say about beauty. Nothing.

But you are beautiful. Powerfully beautiful.

Lust only speaks of self and therefore cannot speak of another. Lust cannot behold. Men who lust after you have never seen you. Perhaps they’ve never seen anyone. Perhaps they’ve never seen.

Modesty is very misunderstood. I fear that you’ve misunderstood it too. Lustful men have asked you to dress modestly to protect them from their lust, to protect you from their lust. But if their lust isn’t about you, how can what you wear affect their inward gaze? You can’t cover up enough to keep lustful men from lusting or pure men from seeing beauty.

Men will see what they’re looking for.

You are beautiful.

Modesty is not a reaction to lust. Modesty isn’t a reaction to anything. It’s an expression of beauty and power. Modesty is not about trying to control men, though its absence might be. Modesty is about self-control. Modesty is about who you are. Modesty recognizes the sacredness of your beauty and reserves the fullness of that beauty for covenant relationship.

God made you beautiful and all men who can see beauty will see yours. But the fullness of your beauty is powerful. And it is yours to give it fully to another. To one.

The lust of men cheapens beauty. You have no control over this and no responsibility for it. Your modesty or the lack thereof won’t affect it at all.

In Jesus’ day, no building was more beautiful than the Temple. All could behold its beauty. I’m sure those who could appreciate beauty at all were struck by its appearance. Some could enter the outer court. Still fewer could enter the Holy Place. Only one can enter the Most Holy Place.

Why limit access to such beauty? Why not grant full access to all?

Some might say these boundaries existed because of our sin. But it wasn’t the absence of sin in the Holy of Holies that necessitated the veil. It was the presence of holiness. The veil is more about the sacredness of what is within than the commonness of what is without.

Some of you cover yourself and call it modesty. But it’s not modesty at all, for it is not motivated by the sacredness of your beauty and power. You cover because you don’t see your beauty. You’ve allowed the lust of others to define your beauty, to erase it, to make it small. If you saw your beauty, you might cover it less. This covering is not modesty; it is shame.

Some of you cover less, and call this power. But it’s not power at all, for it does not protect the sacredness of your beauty. It is not power to take what is sacred and make it common.

Where are the boundaries? Who makes the rules? Public nudity is clearly inappropriate. A burka demeans a woman’s beauty. Somewhere in between is socially acceptable; where the line is drawn depends somewhat on the surrounding culture. But rules can be just another expression of control. Even if we were able to outwardly legislate the correct behavior, the root of control would contaminate all through.

A woman who knows who she is can wear a burka and her beauty will still shine through. A woman who knows who she is can wear something she feels comfortable and beautiful in and her beauty will shine through. It’s not about rules. It’s about knowing who you are.

And Whose you are.

You are beautiful.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” (Psalm 139:14, ESV)

Self-rejection can be a powerful limitation in your life. Of course there are many aspects of self that you can either accept or reject, but self-rejection in the area of your beauty can be particularly devastating. Rejecting your beauty might feel like humility, but it’s not. If God says you are beautiful and you, in disagreeing with Him, elevate your judgment over His, this is pride not humility.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Does your soul know this? Do you know this in the core of your inward being? Is this your default setting for how you see yourself?

It’s not about sex appeal; it’s not about allowing the lust of men to be the barometer by which your beauty is measured. Your beauty emanates from knowing who you are. It’s an overflow of value. It’s an expression of the unique aspects of God’s character on deposit in your life and manifest in every smile, the brightness of your eyes, and yes—in the form of your body. But these outward manifestations of beauty are powerful only as expressions of that which is inward.

You must know that you’re beautiful. You must know that beauty is a gift given to you by a loving and powerful God. He must be beauty’s wellspring in your heart. Without God as your source, your beauty will be defined by other influences: the lust of men, the whims of culture, or the brokenness of your own past.

You are beautiful.

Ask Him to show you.

About The Author

Alan Smith

Alan is married to Nancy, and father to Lauren (16), Anna (14) and Teddy (9). He is the Pastor of Freedom Ministries at Gateway Church and is the author of the new book Unveiled, The Transforming Power of God's Presence and Voice. You can find him at www.alansmithonline.com.

Alan Smith

77 Responses to “Modesty and Beauty”

  1. Awesome, Alan! "Some of you cover less, and call this power. But it’s not power at all, for it does not protect the sacredness of your beauty. It is not power to take what is sacred and make it common." I wish I had known this 35 years ago, but even more so, I wish I had known our Father then. But I believe He allowed me choices that He will be able to put me in the path of someone I will be able to share truth with, that "It’s not about sex appeal; it’s not about allowing the lust of men to be the barometer by which your beauty is measured. Your beauty emanates from knowing who you are. It’s an overflow of value. It’s an expression of the unique aspects of God’s character on deposit in your life and manifest in every smile, the brightness of your eyes, and yes—in the form of your body. But these outward manifestations of beauty are powerful only as expressions of that which is inward."
    Thanks for sharing your heart, and for encouraging us.

  2. Alan – I can never put things into words with this kind of precision and power, but I'm so glad you can!!!! Thank you for sharing your gift. I will be printing this article and reading it to my girls (and myself) repeatedly. We love modesty around here, but the message of why and how can get so convoluted and even just misinterpreted in their hearts. Truth must be spoken clearly, lovingly, and often for them to counteract the voice of the enemy. Thank you for giving us a clear, loving, truthful article that says it so well!

  3. Alan…Incredible and clear. Beauty is powerful, control is weak. Who could make this more clear than you!! Such a potent thought, so well written! The "debate" about modesty is almost always about control, I love how you changed the frame around the image, and made it a Kingdom Focus. Clear, Powerful, Loving, Intelligent, Kind, all these and more come to mind when I read this.

  4. Wow, wow,and wow. I'm sure you have picked up on my struggle in this area. :0) Modesty has definitely been a self protection shield…trying to protect myself from other's struggles. But you are right…you cannot cover up enough. So much to ponder. I will be reading this again…and again. I must come to the place where I no longer fear beauty. I'm at war within…part of me wants and longs for beauty, but then I choke those feelings out with fear. God has already been making me aware of this, but the door was just flung wide open. Thank you for hearing Him… for speaking TRUTH. This day, I will be a little more free. :0)

  5. Alan, that is brilliant. Beautifully expressed. Thank you for sharing this!
    Blessings from Jerusalem,

    Daniel

  6. Beautiful!!! Thought provoking, thank you!

  7. This is a tremendous understanding and re-framing (proper perspective) of modesty. A key line that struck me as a man was this: "Modesty is not about trying to control men, though its absence might be." That's a bulls-eye statement of truth that gives context for men AND women.

    "Every Man's Battle" is a great book for men. It teaches the principle of "bouncing our eyes". Even at church, I sometimes find myself bouncing my eyes only to bounce to another that I need to bounce my eyes from! Modesty is misunderstood and absolutely seen as a control mechanism; therefore, like all controls, it is rebelled against to some extent, leaving the alternative a "power display" that frequently puts too much on display. Modesty, class and style can easily co-exist when a woman sees beauty from within before defining beauty externally.

    Incredibly insightful, Alan!

  8. Thanks, Becky. I feel very privileged to get the opportunity to share this with you.

  9. Thanks, Kisha. The "why" is so important when it comes to modesty. Too many women have been burdened for too long with responsibility for that which they can never control.

  10. Thanks Bob! It's been fun getting to contribute to this series with you and Zach. I can think of very few things more valuable than helping people see women as God does.

  11. Hi Becky! I might have noticed it once in a while. :-)

    This is a good door to just go ahead and fling open. I'm privileged to give it a push today, my friend.

  12. Thanks Daniel! Shalom to you!!!

  13. Alan – amazing! For years I have struggled with the concepts of modestly and feeling as though it is my job to be certain that I am covering up so as to not cause or draw attention to myself. In the same way have judged other women by how they dressed (I am not referring to dressing up, I am referring to barely dressing) when it caused eyes to turn and look on them with lustful eyes. This has always been a pressure point for me, since I was a young girl and started noticing the changes in my own body. I know that the feelings and guild-lines that I have maintained regarding how I dress and present myself have been based on shameful feeling, and fear that I would offend some other woman. This area of my life has been cramped into this very tight box, drawn with very clear, straight lines…you just blew that all away. I am going to be reading this post over and over and over so that I am sure to get the full picture of what you just said. I know that the Lord this last year has been shifting things around in my heart regarding this particular area in my life. I really needed this…thank you for sharing His heart about who I am.

  14. Encouraging and empowering. Spoken out of conviction and inspiration. Received and applied. Free to be me. Thanks.

  15. Love this!

  16. Thanks Anthony! I love to see men taking responsibility for their own thought life and not requiring women to carry that load for them. You're a great example. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Wow Jessica! I can't even put words to how much this makes my heart happy. I'm very glad to help blow that box away.

  18. Hi Dana! You are so welcome, and such an incredible example of someone who sees beauty and helps others to see it too. Be you.

  19. You. Wrote this. You, my husband. You, the father of our girls. And not only did you write it, but you live it, every day. I watch you interact with other women. I hear comments like, "He has the kindest eyes I've ever seen" and I know that I am safe. That my daughters are safe. That other women are safe. That you call out the beauty within all of us, because you are you. Because you see us; really see us, and the beauty within us, which allows us to be comfortable in the beauty without.

    I could love you more, but I'm not sure how.

  20. "Modesty is not a reaction to lust. Modesty isn’t a reaction to anything. It’s an expression of beauty and power. Modesty is not about trying to control men, though its absence might be. Modesty is about self-control. Modesty is about who you are. Modesty recognizes the sacredness of your beauty and reserves the fullness of that beauty for covenant relationship.". Love this!! Truth understood truly sets free!! Thank you!

  21. I’ve never met an ugly woman. You are ALL beautiful. I have mistakenly allowed myself to be captured by a woman’s beauty and convinced myself that because I was captivated, that I should possess it. But this was an error in MY thinking. A woman’s modesty would have had no bearing on my attraction to her. Alan does a great job explaining this dynamic.

  22. Great article Alan. So glad to hear something fresh and balanced on the topic. Thanks.

  23. Love you.

  24. I agree with all these comments, especially Nancy's. This is who you are and how you see women. I am incredibly thankful for that/your kind of male influence in my life – the kind that helps us see true beauty as God created it and intended it. Profoundly insightful and ever so needed! THANKS ALAN!

  25. "I've never met an ugly woman." Personally, I don't believe they even exist. I've never met one, either. :)

  26. Absolutely awesome. Thank you.

  27. Thanks, Tomi!

  28. Daddy, this is fantastic. :) I love you!

  29. Thanks Ben! I always love watching you and Jenni together. It's so clear to me that you see her and that she knows who she is. You're an amazing husband.

  30. Thanks Lala. Your beauty inspires me every day. Thanks for being spectacular. I love you.

  31. WOW! Awesome Awesome Awesome! These are words that all women and men should read. I am sharing with all the Beautifully and Wonderfully made women in my life! Thanks Mr. Smith

  32. So beautifully put Alan! Thank you so much for sharing. Amazing!!!

  33. There are no words for how good this is, how needed this is…it's made me look at modesty with different lenses.

  34. [...] MODESTY AND BEAUTY [...]

  35. Yes! Exactly! Amen and amen! Such an eloquently delivered smackdown on our misconceptions of beauty, lust, modesty, control…. I so appreciate you!!! This is so packed with truth – gonna read it again!

  36. That was healing, in so many ways. Thank you, Pastor Alan.

  37. Awesome!

  38. I needed this. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have already printed this article, and will read it over and over again.

  39. I tried to comment several times already today. But this article was seriously impacting for me so it just kept getting long. Like, out of control long. Finally I just turned it into a blog because it just would not be cut down!

    http://www.beautifully-chaotic.com/2012/05/a-new-

    Thank you so much Alan, this resolved so much confusion and turmoil that I have dealt with on a pretty much daily basis for years. Not even kidding. This has been one of the most frustrating aspects to reconcile when looking at my own self-image. thank you again!

  40. This is "hit you to your core" incredible! So articulate, so clear, SO needed. Thank you. Grateful.

  41. Alan, thank you so much for writing this article, it has spoken so much to my heart and shifted things around in my mind. Whenever there has been lustful eyes coming my way or when your walking somewhere and you feel the heaviness of a men starring at you it always makes me feel uncomfortable and makes me think why, what am I doing wrong, I am not dressed provocative, why why…etc… before reading your article I had felt like I was causing this to happen…Thank you so much for sharing this with us. You said some pretty amazing things that it would be a long comment if I pointed every single thing out and shared how it touched me. But in regards to what I just shared above I would have to say this goes with it – A woman who knows who she is can wear a burka and her beauty will still shine through. A woman who knows who she is can wear something she feels comfortable and beautiful in and her beauty will shine through. It’s not about rules. It’s about knowing who you are.

  42. WOW! So well put Alan. I loved your description of the temple and and it's correlation to our beauty and the access given to it. This was such an excellent word for women, men and everyone who is struggling with knowing who they are and Whose they are. Thank you Alan for your insight and wisdom.

  43. I know this is a powerful article for(to) me when the devil jumbles it all and i can't understand what it means! LOL!! Will be printing and reading at another quiet time :-) Thanks for writing it!

  44. Alan, I do not know you but what you write is beyond powerful. And coming from a man gives me hope that I have not had in a very long time. I know it is my calling to help individuals affected by pornography. I knew this was my calling after fighting breast cancer for 1 year followed by a year of fighting for my marriage after discovering my husband was trying to have an affair and deep into pornography during my entire fight with cancer. It has taken me to some very dark places but God has brought me out of the pit of despair to speak life to his people. You CAN survive a whole lot more than you EVER thought possible. I owe it ALL to the LORD and give him all the glory. If not for HIS grace and mercy I would not be here today. http://www.sometimesshecries.com

  45. Thank you Alan for reminding women their beauty comes from knowing who they are and for affirming that another's lust does not define us. Well said my friend!

  46. Wow, Amazing!

  47. Holy Cow was that GOOD!!!!!!!

  48. Thanks for reading and sharing!

  49. Thanks, Angie! I've loved watching you discover who you are. And Whose.

  50. Thanks Alex. That's exactly what I hoped for with this.

  51. Thank you Crista! I like "eloquently delivered smackdown" phrase. Kind of has a Kennedy Center Honors meets WWE Monday Night Raw feel. Love your hunger for truth.

  52. Thanks Lauren. That makes me very happy.

  53. You're welcome! I pray it will continue to speak.

  54. Mel – I just loved the blog you wrote in response to this. That I had some role in lifting a burden you never should have been asked to carry–this means more to me than you can know.

  55. Blessings to you Stacy. I'm so glad this connected with you.

  56. It's so important to know what you're responsible for (yourself) and what you're not responsible for (the motives and choices of others). I'm so glad this resonated with you.

  57. Thanks Terry. I agree with you–this message is just as important for men as for women. Blessings.

  58. You’re welcome! I hope you will read it again and let it soak in!

  59. Beauty for ashes. The oil of joy for morning. May God do all this in and through you. And more. Blessings.

  60. Thanks Nancy. Your strength, power and beauty is an example for all of us. So appreciate you.

  61. Ya …. wow. really. speechless really.

    And trying to find my stand out quote. ridiculous. I could quote the whole thing!

    I can't say thank you enough for joining this project and team. I can't get past some big kingdom rockin' just happened and I pray we have many after shocks!

    One more BIG FAT thank you!
    Great Love! ~Ris

  62. Ris – Thank you for including me. I feel very privileged to be part of this.

  63. This should be must-reading for any teenaged girl, and women in general. I loved the insight about how "You can’t cover up enough to keep lustful men from lusting or pure men from seeing beauty." and "It’s not about sex appeal; it’s not about allowing the lust of men to be the barometer by which your beauty is measured. Your beauty emanates from knowing who you are." A burden has been lifted off my heart by this… thank you. :)

  64. Great article Alan….as mom of a daughter that strives hard for modesty at all times, I will be making sure she reads this!! Thanks for sharing such a fresh perspective on this subject…..

  65. WOW! This is so good! I love how you make things soooo clear! I want every girl to hear this, so I will start with my sphere of influence.

  66. This was great :) I know in the area of modesty it's a message that sometimes I want to look over. It gave me a new perspective in terms of beauty. It's not about rules and doing a,b and c. There are certain things as a woman that I can never control in regards to how a man may view me. It's doing what you know to do– be modest, not in terms of control but knowing that the fullness of a woman's beauty is sacred and to be unleashed in a covenantal relationship. That's beautiful! Thanks for this and I definitely will be sharing and passing it along. God bless!

  67. This is so good, Alan. Thanks for helping us women see ourselves through a healthy lens and not the lens through which others may have viewed us, and to value our sacredness as God intended. You are a gifted writer and theologian who communicates truth in a practical, "grasp-able" way. Thanks!

  68. Thanks Alan for sharing on this very important issue – I was freed by this comment. "The lust of men cheapens beauty. You have no control over this and no responsibility for it." So true and so liberating. I appreciate the careful and encouraging way you speak of women and to women. You are a good pastor and a good man.

  69. I am so glad you know whose you are! Only someone who knows Father God intimately could write with this depth and clarity about women in this uplifting, delightful, encouraging, and living water way! More please, write more, post more!

  70. This is… A very deep breath. Thank you

  71. Beautifully written, Alan. So many young women, especially in this particular culture, need to know they are beautiful because God created them. I know of young ladies who easily give themselves to guys…one in particular crosses my mind because she was raised in an environment where her mother married over and over, complains, even to this day, about her current husband. Her background is Mormon, and there is no evidence, even though the family seems to be close, that she knows the Lord Jesus Christ. God has me praying for her every morning. I'm posting this in hopes that she will read. Thank you again.

  72. Alan, that was powerful. My hope and prayers are that woman see the Truth in this and the shallowness of anything less. Great!

  73. Alan, this was amazing and so thought-provoking! Immediately freeing in the revelation that merely covering up cannot control another's thoughts or actions. I would bet that the majority of women struggle with self-rejection on many levels – thanks for your encouragement! I appreciate your heart for true freedom!!

  74. Alan, this is powerful and so well said! I don't know a single woman who hasn't wrestled with her own beauty, probably because that's a part of becoming. Thanks for cutting through some of the misconceptions and pointing us to our Creator, the source of our beauty. I'll be chewing on this one for awhile. Thank you.

  75. Such a beautiful post from you.

  76. Wow wow wow!! This is powerful truth!! Thank you for so beautifully articulating the truth about women and their beauty that has been been misconstrued since the beginning of time. Thank you for writing in such an honoring way toward women! I have been so blessed to have godly men in my life, and have been protected from many things. But this article is a must read for any person!

  77. Thankful for this article. With all the blogs, articles, videos out there about modesty (I'm very pro-modesty!), I have seen the debates and retorts to modesty…how women shouldn't have to worry about the guys, it's not our responsibility, etc. I think this article is a beautiful and balanced explanation of modesty.